Demand for Sharp’s face masks crashes website and smart home gadgets

Sharp announced last month that it would begin making face masks at its TV factory in Japan, and this morning they became available to order — at least, that was the plan. Demand for the masks has overwhelmed Sharp’s servers to the point that not only is it near-impossible to access the online store, internet services for the company’s smart home gadgets have apparently been taken down too.

The Asahi Shimbun reports that Sharp IoT devices like air conditioners that connect to the internet and use smartphones for controls are currently experiencing problems. A Sharp representative apologized for the trouble and said the company is looking into the root cause. According to the company, it’s possible that the problems were caused by concentrated traffic to a server that handles user accounts for both the online store and the smart devices.

The masks look like regular medical masks that are commonly worn in Japan and other Asian countries to help prevent the spread of diseases, but they do have a Sharp logo on the bottom. They cost $2,980 yen (~$28) for a box of 50, with $680 yen ($6) for shipping, and customers are restricted to buying one box at a time every three days. The store went live at 10AM JST today, but as of this writing (nearly five hours later) is still offline.